Just the days after the Americans celebrate their Revolution, the French celebrate theirs, on Bastille Day July 14.
The two revolutions could not have been more different. The Americans honored God (See our Blog of 7/2/14 “Declaration Day”). The French, on the other hand, adopted the atheistic, anti-Christian values of the French Enlightenment and set out to eradicate God from public life. Churches were closed, priests were persecuted, and the calendar was remade without any Christian holidays. To replace the Virgin Mary, the revolutionary leaders invented the atheistic “Goddess of Liberty”, which became the emblem of Godless liberty.
The fruit of the revolutions was also very different. America became a beacon of hope for the world as it worked to make its dream of equality and God given rights become a reality. In France, the godless foundation of the revolution meant that all moral restraint on power evaporated, and the infamous Reign of Terror began. Neither life no liberty were safe, and even the leaders were carried off one by one to the Terror. Finally order was restored but all hope of liberty vanished under the iron fisted rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. It turns out that Godless liberty is no liberty at all.
Sad to say, the lesson of the French Revolution has been repeated over and over since then. The Communist revolutions in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, and elsewhere produced massive death and eliminated freedom. The same holds true for the Nazis in Germany and the Fascists in Italy who, like Napoleon, lead the whole world into war. The post colonial socialists in Africa grabbed power after elections, giving rise to the famous statement of “One man, one vote, one time”. And now we watch the same thing happen as Islamist extremists try to turn the “Arab Spring” into winter for the God given rights of their people.
Our hearts and our prayers go out to the people in the Middle East who are struggling to achieve some measure of equality and freedom. We especially pray for the persecuted Christian minorities in places like Iraq and Syria who are continually under persecution from the Islamist Militants. And let us also not forget Israel, which is caught between the Sunni and Shia in Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.
Let us pray that the precious gift of Godly Liberty, and especially religious liberty, can overcome the evil of Godless liberty.